It took some time before the audience at the University of Hong Kong for a few seconds to see that Chinese genitologist He Jiankiu, who said on Monday that he had changed the DNA of two newborn babies, was not shown. "I do not know where he is," said Robin Lovells-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute after presenting him. But after these uncertainties, the researcher entered the side door portfolio to defend an experiment that tested the scientific community and stated that such types of embryos are "at the beginning of the second pregnancy." However, he stressed that for the time being he had stopped the check "due to the current situation", referring to the scandal that his investigation had caused.
At the start of his speech, he apologized for announcing his experiment without informing the organizers of the second-gen-genome edition summit held this week in the British former colony. He reasoned on the grounds that he had sent an article with test data in the scientific journal, although he did not mention the title of the publication. In a speech with a lack of information, he does not determine which potential scientific experts should be consulted at different stages of the investigation or should provide details of the possible ethical monitoring that should be carried out at each stage in accordance with the rules adopted by the members of his profession.
"He has only general features because he knows that he has ignored good practice in any trial," said Marina de Jesus Medina Arelano, a Mexican University of Bioethics and one of the members of the Scientific Congress in Hong Kong. . "Look for recognition," he added.
At US universities, Rice and Stanford's trained geneticist first surprised the world by announcing "two weeks ago," Nana and Lulu, two Chinese twins who had modified the CCR5 gene, the birth of that viral AIDS, used as a door to attack the human immune system. He explained that after the couple decided to withdraw from the project, he worked with seven others in whom the man was an AIDS virus carrier, and she did not have a woman. He said that after twelve successful "embryos" of the "Soul" mother used eleven embryos in six implantation attempts. Now he ensures that the girls are in perfect health at home and their experiment has not caused unwanted mutations. "I'm proud. I feel very proud because my father (from twin girls) thought he had lost hope in his life," he said.
Touching on the idea that his method "may be the only way to cure a disease," the researcher, who said that he himself finances his work and rejects any involvement of the company, insisted that "if technology is available, we can help people who it is needed. "
With these statements, he named his position after an investigation – even secret – that could help avoid inherited illnesses by preventing or changing the problem of embryo encoding. However, the lack of knowledge about the damage that can be caused not only to the individual but also to future generations, the modification of these embryos has caused criticism from scientists from different parts of the world.
Including a Nobel Prize in Physiology. David Baltimore, one of the organizers of the Hong Kong congress, who spoke out of his speech, expressing regret that it was "irresponsible" to do this. "I do not think it was a transparent process. We only knew after the occurrence and the birth of children," he said, to ensure tomorrow's official statement from the organization.
In the same way, 122 Chinese scientists group signed a rejection letter describing the experiment as "madness" and worried about the stain he used to investigate the reputation in that country. And further, the Scientific Institutions ordered an investigation into the fact that he, the University of Science and Technology in South University, where he worked as associate professor, carried out checks, moved away from him, pointing out that he had been on vacation since February and even in the hospital, that he probably cooperated , condemned the possible forgery of signatures.
Despite the scandal and criticism of the storm associated with his statement, he defended his experiment and said that he would remain at the attention of both newborns in the next 18 years, and, if possible, the girls would also come to an agreement afterwards. The discrimination that aroused HIV-stricken viral carriers in China and the spread of the disease in different parts of the world were the reasons why he explained, prompting him to carry out an experiment that Medina's words could not have happened. The expert said: "It has beneficial effects, so that it no longer happens. "
But Pandora's box is already open and possibly another genetically modified child. He is clear in anticipation of the knowledge of the scientific community's post-experiment. "If my son could have it (an AIDS virus), I would have done it with her," he concluded, before leaving for the back door.